First Drive Review 2017 Volkswagen Golf, the best just keeps getting the same

In a fast paced ever changing world, it’s nice to know some things stay the same.  The VW Golf is such a thing that has stayed pretty much the same.  For 41 years the nimble VW Golf has been a staple of suburban driveways in America, and it shows no signs of drastically changing that anytime soon.

The Golf family is actually quite large; there’s the Golf, the GTI, the R, the e-Golf, SportWagen and the Alltrack.

At the center of it all is plain old Golf. A car that remains an affordably priced not too fluffy well-built hatchback with an interior that seems larger than it really is, an engine that powers it faster than it looks like it will go, and leaves a driver with a satisfying feeling on the road that belies its plain appearance.

VW recently delivered a 2017 TSI SEL for a week. And I wasn’t disappointed. I was however a little confused, at first.

The 2017 had a few minor changes, including, according to VW, the dropping of the two-door model and the replacement of the SE and SEL levels with a Wolfsburg edition.  Oddly though the model I was delivered was the SEL. A 2017.  Turns out you can still order the SE and SEL trims, they just aren’t part of the everyday lineup.

The SEL is priced higher than the (new) top of the everyday lineup Wolfsburg, and has most of the best features VW can put in its Golf.

The SEL shares many of the same features you can find in the Wolfsburg: heated front seats, leatherette upholstery, a sunroof, proximity keyless entry, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert.

The SEL adds its own driver assistance package with park distance control, lane departure warning, bi-xenon headlights and an auto dimming rear view mirror.

Of course, the base model S comes nicely equipped for under $20,000 with such things as Bluetooth, a 6.5-inch touch screen rearview camera, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and VW’s Car-Net.

Under the hood, the Golf has a turbocharged 1.8 liter 4-cylinder engine putting 170 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels via a standard five-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed automatic. There’s no fancy drive modes, but you can pull the automatic transmission down into Sport mode, for a fun, spirited drive.

I had the automatic for the week, and while I could drone on and on, anyone who is even remotely interested in a midsize hatchback knows the Golf.  It drives well, has a roomy well laid out interior, and is affordable for just about everyone.

For 41 years the Golf has been an anchor in an ever changing (it seems) class of small, affordable hatchbacks and sedans.  For 2018, the Golf will get a refresh. But don’t look for too many major changes. In this ever-changing world, one thing that hasn’t changed all that much is Volkswagen’s Golf.

The 2017 VW Golf TSI SEL
MSRP: $27,995
MSRP (as tested): $30,810
Engine: 1.8 liter, 170 hp @4500 rpm, 199 lb-ft torque @1600 rpm
Transmission (as tested): 6-speed shiftable automatic w/OD
Fuel Mileage (EPA):  25 city, 35 highway, 29 combined
Fuel Mileage (as tested, mixed conditions): 27 mpg
Base Curb Weight     3023 lbs

Exterior Dimensions
Wheelbase     103.8 in
Length, Overall     167.5 in
Width, Max w/o mirrors     70.8 in
Height, Overall     57.2 in
Track Width, Front     61 in
Track Width, Rear     59.8 in
Min Ground Clearance     5.4 in
Cargo Area Dimensions
Cargo Volume with Rear Seat Up     22.8 ft³
Cargo Volume with Rear Seat Down     52.7 ft³

Interior Dimensions
Passenger Capacity     5
Passenger Volume     93.5 ft³
Front Head Room     38.4 in
Front Leg Room     41.2 in
Front Shoulder Room     55.9 in
Second Head Room     38.1 in
Second Leg Room     35.6 in
Second Shoulder Room     53.9 in

Basic: 3 Years/36,000 Miles
Drivetrain: 5 Years/60,000 Miles
Corrosion: 12 Years/Unlimited Miles
Roadside Assistance:  3 Years/36,000 Miles

Greg Engle